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Opening Up to Your Partner about Asthma and Intimacy

Happy couple embracing under blanket
Getty Images / JacoBlund

Asthma can be a worry during romantically intimate moments. Don’t keep your partner in the dark about your condition or feelings on the matter, says Michelle Rivas.

Read Michelle’s three tips for navigating intimacy and asthma management with your partner.

For many of us, romantic and physical intimacy can feel like awkward discussion topics. The conversation can become even more nerve-wracking when talking about romantic intimacy and asthma. 

It’s hard to admit that asthma could impact a romantic relationship, but it’s not uncommon. In a survey conducted by Asthma UK, two-thirds of 500 participants said asthma interferes with their romantic lives.

Ducking aside to take medication during an intimate moment can be embarrassing. It might even sound like an excuse to avoid getting intimate if your partner doesn’t have asthma or understand the condition.

When romantic intimacy is hampered by asthma, it can bring on feelings of guilt, rejection, or shame. Mostly, I’m annoyed that my body won’t cooperate with my heart and mind.

I thought “admitting” to having asthma would repel my partner

At first, I didn't want to share my asthma with my partner because I worried he’d see me as “fragile.” I never wanted to feel like a damsel in distress, especially early on in our relationship. I wanted to be seen as strong and independent, and taking medication before or after our time together wasn’t what I pictured for my new relationship.

I didn’t mean to keep my condition a secret. It also wasn’t something I wanted to shout from the mountaintops. It took a few months before I finally began to open up and share more about myself and my condition with my future husband.

So how can we avoid negative feelings around romantic intimacy and asthma when we’re with our partners? I followed these three steps.

3 Tips for getting comfortable with asthma and intimacy

1. Talk to your partner about asthma and how it affects you

Don’t leave your partner in the dark about your condition. Remember that this person cares about you, and they want you to be healthy and happy above all else.

Even if you think you’ve been playing it cool, your partner is likely aware of your cautiousness or avoidance of intimacy.

They’re likely concerned, and it’s up to you to show them how they can help you. For example, they should know if your asthma or allergies are triggered by scented candles or flowers before they try making any grand romantic gestures. Partners should also be aware that any pets may aggravate your symptoms.

Likewise, talk to your partner about keeping the bedroom free from asthma triggers. You’ll get a better night’s sleep and won’t be as worried about asthma ruining an intimate moment!

The bottom line: Relationships are built on trust, and an open dialogue is crucial. But, equally, romantic intimacy and asthma aren’t opposites. The more you think that your condition “brings down the moment,” the more that attitude will affect you and your partner.

2. If needed, consult your doctor about your asthma treatment plan

If your asthma significantly worsens physical activity or allergen exposure, you may need to adjust your treatment plan.

Pay attention to how much your lifestyle is impacted by asthma. Do you avoid intimate moments because you’re worried about “ruining the moment” with your medication?

As with personal relationships, honest and open dialogue with your healthcare team is super important. Your doctor must know if your symptoms flare with physical activity - in or outside the bedroom. It might be time to adjust your medication or treatment approach.

3. Ask yourself if asthma’s the only thing you’re worried about when getting intimate

Is intimacy really a trigger for your asthma? Or is it something else? A potential allergy to a perfume, clothing, or something else in the room? Anxiety? Our brains may sabotage intimate moments in a misguided bid to protect us.  

Keep an asthma journal for when your symptoms flare and require rescue medication. Try to pinpoint the trigger that set off the attack. This is critical information for your next doctor’s visit.

Remember that you deserve love, intimacy, and respect. You are not your asthma. Having a respiratory condition does not make you less worthy. And you shouldn’t ever feel ashamed or embarrassed discussing your needs with your partner.

© 2023 Life Effects by Teva Pharmaceuticals

The individual(s) who have written and created the content in and whose images appear in this article have been paid by Teva Pharmaceuticals for their contributions. This content represents the opinions of the contributor and does not necessarily reflect those of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Similarly, Teva Pharmaceuticals does not review, control, influence or endorse any content related to the contributor's websites or social media networks. This content is intended for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice or recommendations. Consult a qualified medical professional for diagnosis and before beginning or changing any treatment regimen​. 

This site is intended for UK and Ireland residents only.

Date of preparation: August 2023
D: COB-GB-NP-00139 (V1.0) / T: COB-GB-NP-00164 (V1.0) / M: COB-GB-NP-00163 (V1.0)

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